Stay Away

by Alan Rapp on October 21, 2005

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Stay
  • IMDb: link

There seems to be a belief in Hollywood that if you make an incomprehensible film that looks pretty and add a twist ending that shocks the audience but doesn’t fulfill the needs of the movie to explain what is happening then you’ve met your obligation to the audience.  Stay is an unfathomable mess of a movie that meanders its way through flashbacks, reversals, timestops, and fancy camera tricks.  All well and good, but in the end the film has nothing to say.  It’s as if we’re watching a film student’s exercise in using different film and storytelling techniques, but the professor forgot to look over his script to see that there is no story there.  I went to see Doom on the same day I saw Stay and folks that’s enough to drive most people out of movie theaters for years.  I don’t mind taking one for the team now and then, but two in ten hours…well, I wouldn’t wish that on even my worst enemy—maybe Rob Schneider and Carrot Top.

There setup includes psychiatrist Sam Foster (Ewan McGreggor) treating a new suicidal patient named Henry Letham (Ryan Gosling).  Sam also has a girlfriend who once tried to commit suicide Lila (Naomi Watts) who he constantly worries about while he tries to find a way to stop Henry from doing the same thing.

That’s the basic set-up, or is it?  From the very beginning time moves strangely, characters jump through time and space and shift positions with other characters.  Sam encounters time loops, time stops, and people from Henry’s past who he knows to be dead.

It’s obviously not reality that we are seeing, but since the movie takes place from three different perspectives – Sam’s, Lila’s, and Henry’s – it can’t be someone’s dream, right?  On a side note if every character in the movie is dead or suicidal….well, maybe even the characters realize how bad this film is and are trying to escape through any means necessary.

The movie makes no sense.  The basic setup is pretty boring as the presentation of Henry shows a young troubled angry young man who might be dangerous to others.  It’s hard to root for Sam to save this guy when everything we are shown makes us believe the world would be better off if he was allowed to commit suicide.

The twist at the end, I’ll spare you the exact details, far from explains the movie.  In fact it raises objections to any validity of any of the movie at all; because of what we are shown at the end the movie simply can not exist as the ending invalidates all that has come before.

I saw this film at a private screening for press and none of us, I repeat none of us, understood what the movie was about.  This is a pointless exercise.  The movie presents itself as some kind of logic puzzle to be solved, yet the solution it offers makes the puzzle existence unintelligible and impossible.  I actually rated Doom, which is a mind-numbing waste of film, higher than this flick.  As bad as Doom is, and it’s one of the worst films of the year, at least I understood what it was about and why it was made.  I can’t say the same for Stay.

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